Governor Signs Identity Theft Bill

On July 26, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires a person convicted of identity theft to pay the cost of repairing the victim’s credit.

SB 208
(Alquist) authorizes restitution for expenses to monitor an identity theft victim's credit report and for the costs to repair the victim's credit for a period of time reasonably necessary to make the victim whole, as specified.

Identity theft continues to top the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) list of consumer complaints.  According to the FTC, 8.1 million U.S. residents were victims of identity theft in 2007 with the total cost of about $45 billion.

Each year a growing number of Californians become victims of identity theft.  With changes in technology, increasing amounts of personal identifying information available electronically, and a souring economy, identity theft is becoming a much more lucrative and sophisticated crime.  The result is not only more victims, but deeper and more extensive victimization.  It is increasingly common for victims of identity theft to suffer for years after the crime initially occurs.  Victims' personal identifying information is getting distributed for use among many identity thieves.  So even in cases where the initial criminal is caught, the victimization does not necessarily end.  Today, victims must monitor and make corrections to their credit histories for years after the crime occurred.

SB 208 reinforces the importance of punishing identity thieves and the seriousness of this crime.  This bill was sponsored by the California Attorney General’s Office and supported by the California Chamber of Commerce and several other business organizations.

For the full text of the bill, please click here.